View Poll Results: What is a best winter protection for bees and beehives?

Voters
5. You may not vote on this poll
  • Cardboard Winter Wrap Carton

    0 0%
  • 2 Storey Bee Cozy - padded plastic bag

    1 20.00%
  • Saran wrap

    2 40.00%
  • Other -please reply to thread with suggestion

    2 40.00%
Results 1 to 8 of 8
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Burlington, Illinois, USA
    Posts
    6

    Question Beehives during winter months

    Hello everyone,

    this is my first year and first winter.

    I would like to know what can I do to protect the girls from the cold Chicago winters. I have done some research and I have found few things:

    1. Mannlake.com sells loose or snug fit cardboard box:

    snug fit- http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeepin...ct/WT-145.html or
    loose fit- http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeepin...ct/WT-150.html

    The concern with this is: Is it enough protection?

    2. Mannlake also sells padded plastic bag:

    http://www.mannlakeltd.com/beekeepin...ct/WT-160.html

    The concern with this option is about this plastic, wont the condensation inside the hive and possibly kill the bees?

    3. I have spoken with a local beekeeper, and he suggested wrapping both stories (hive bodies) in plastic saran wrap. He has only 3 hives though, so I'm assuming he is not a professional. The concern with his suggestion is the same as with Mannlake's padded plastic bag. Wont that create condensation?

    Thank you very much in advance,
    Stefanely

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Deer Lodge MT
    Posts
    584

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Just because the local beek only has a small handful of hives I wouldn't discount his advice. How long has he been a beekeeper? The best advice is generally from local beekeepers whom have had the experience for your climate.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    3,218

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    I insulate my hives with foam insulation panels strapped around them; add quilt boxes (with vent holes above), upper entrances (wind-baffled), 1.5 inches of foam in my telecover and mouse guards on any entrance (wooden reducer place notch-up with only the notch open for the bees below.) I use solid boards under my SBB, with the slots tightly closed. My winter yard is protected on the windward side by a 30' tall evergreen shelter belt.

    But honestly, the most important two factors for my excellent winter survival are: mite control from mid-summer on and more than adequate stores in the hive (more than adequate means more than what is typically needed in my local area, which varies.)

    I would never consider wrapping my hives in Saran Wrap (and double that for any hive w/o an upper entrance and a quilt box.) The two other things seem to me to be not harmful, but perhaps not very helpful either.

    I live in a cold climate (Z4b), and I take my my winter preps seriously:prep-Bliz bees 2015.jpg. Most people would say I over-do it.

    My husband calls this my bee shanty-town - there were four tall colonies underneath it all. The political signs were acting as wind baffles.

    YMMV, but don't get caught up in how to wrap hives that are not already mite-treated and full of stores.

    Enjambres

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    6,933

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Saran Wrap. Really?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Jefferson Co, TX
    Posts
    1,600

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Palmer View Post
    Saran Wrap. Really?
    My thought exactly. While it would block the wind, it seems like a really quick way to pick up condensation issues and a layer of it does not provide any insulation.
    Started 9/13, building slowly, not trying the no treatment anymore

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    2,930

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Negative on the saran wrap. I would prefer something looser fitting to preserve a certain amount of air space which really does have insulation effect, and is loose enough fitting to allow moisture seeping through hive bodies to migrate up and out the top.

    Something like 5 gallons of water will be given off by the colony in the course of the winter. How to get rid of that with a minimum heat loss by the cluster, is the key to wintering in cold climates. I am in zone 4a
    Frank

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Miami, Manitoba, Canada
    Posts
    8,555

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Don't Saran Wrap... Let them breath

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    9,213

    Default Re: Beehives during winter months

    Stefanely, I'm not in Illinois, and in Tennessee my hives don't get insulated or wrapped for winter.


    However, here is my opinion for your situation:

    #1 Make sure your bees have adequate honey/sugar to get through the winter!. Bees can survive cold fairly easily if they have adequate carbohydrates and can stay dry.

    #2 If you feel the need to add 'something', a piece of 2" foam board (weighted down) on top of the cover can shift the point of condensation for moisture released by the bees from the 'inside roof' to the walls of the hive. This is significant because condensation dripping on the cluster is not conducive to the the survival of the colony. Shift the point of condensation to the walls where the water is harmless, and can potentially be used by the colony to dilute stores.

    #3 If high winds are an issue at the hives' location, establish a wind block. That can be done without wrapping by stacking hay/straw bales appropriately, or perhaps standing a free pallet on edge and pounding a couple of Tee posts in to keep the pallet in place, or a prebuilt fence panel if appearance is an issue. Allow the hive body as much sun exposure as possible. The goal is not to form a cave, but simply reduce the wind to a lower level.
    Graham
    . . . . . . "those who want to see, can see". - - [Oldtimer - 2016]

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